Sustainability Courses

School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

School of Business and Public Administration

College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences

David A. Clarke School or Law

College of Arts and Sciences

New sustainability courses for Fall 2011

Introduction to Renewable Energy

Course # ME 3511-103

This three credit course provides an introduction to various types of renewable energy technologies and their capabilities. The course is also useful for student interested in environmental policies, business, and sustainable development. The class will explore society’s current need and future demands for energy with an emphasis on Solar, Wind, Biomass, Hydro, and Geothermal technologies.  Discussion of economic potentials, environmental impacts, and social policies are integral components of this course.

Learning Objectives

  1. Demonstrate competent knowledge of renewable energy recourses, their potentials, their relation to humans, and their pros and cons;
  2. Identify specific actions that can be taken by individuals to conserve energy and to promote the development and use of renewable energy recourses; and
  3. Demonstrate the ability to conduct scientific research to solve renewable energy problems.
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Fuel Cell Fundamentals and Technologies

Course # 495 01 11741 (Special Topics)

Fuel cells are introduced as a renewable energy resource. This course covers the concepts and fundamentals of fuel cells. Various types of fuel cells will be discussed to give in-depth understanding of practical fuel cell device. Experiments will be conducted as necessary to supplement course lectures.
Learning Objectives

  1. Educate students about the underlying principles of fuel cells;
  2. Provide students an understanding of fuel cell fundamentals, including thermodynamic mechanism and electrochemistry; and
  3. Closely study the materials and design aspect of fuel cells, including a number of common fuel cells.
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Photovoltaic and Solar Thermal Energy Systems

Course # 495 01 11741 (Special Topics)

This interdisciplinary course is designed to educate students about solar energy harvesting.  It covers various energy resources, including the physics of solar cells and cell characterization, photovoltaic devices and their applications, solar energy conversion to electricity and thermal energy. Students will also learn net metering design of solar energy systems for residential structures. Fundamentals and functioning of photovoltaic cells/ solar cells will be covered through lectures, laboratory experiments, and field work.

Learning Objectives

  1. Demonstrate an understanding the functions of photovoltaic cells and solar energy systems;
  2. Effectively communicate the design of solar energy systems; and
  3. Develop critical and analytical skills to assess the effectiveness of various solar energy system designs.
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Introduction to Urban Planning

Course # 294 0 10729

Tracing the evolution of modern urban planning, its practice and its results, this course will discuss its development within the context of American metropolitan growth.  This course will show how practitioners applied elements of design, engineering, law and the social sciences to create the profession of planning. Special emphasis will be placed on how planning and  sustainability have impacted minority communities throughout the United States.

The course will use historical planning examples as a platform from which modern issues such as Smart Growth, Globalization, Urbanization, Climate Change and Transit Oriented Development have emerged.  Therefore many readings, although historical, will relate to contemporary topics. With Washington, DC as a backdrop, the course discussion will be supplemented by guest lecturers with local and national recognition as subject matter experts within the profession of urban planning. Students will also be exposed to urban planning as a possible professional career option upon graduation.

Learning Objectives

  1. Develop analytical, presentation and written communication skills used by a municipal planner;
  2. Develop the ability to employ basic methods of data analysis, research and critical thinking to inform all aspects of urban planning;
  3. Develop the ability to speak and write effectively on subject matter contained in the curriculum;
  4. Understand fundamentals of the urban planning process.
  5. Comprehend the interrelatedness of the social, design, transportation, environmental and economic aspects of urban planning; and
  6. Research and analyze the impacts of urban planning policies and practices and to argue effectively for and against policies.
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Environmental Law II: Environmental Law and Policy

David A. Clarke School or Law

Environmental laws can be extremely complex. This course provides the foundation by covering the fundamentals of environmental law.  It is an introduction to the legal and policy issues of environmental protection and decision-making, including the study of common law approaches to pollution control and the theories and approach to federal laws governing environmental regulation. This is a survey course that will provide students a broad, practical understanding of some important federal environmental statutes and case law.  The course is designed to introduce students to the fascinating variety of important environmental challenges addressed by environmental laws, the difficult policy issues surrounding environmental problems, and the legal complexities of environmental regulatory and administrative schemes.

Learning Objectives

  1. Develop critical analytical and research skills (such as analyzing problems and reading statutes) that are transferable to all areas of environmental law;
  2. Obtain a solid understanding of some of the major issues in the practice of environmental law and practice; and
  3. Establish grounded understanding of the interaction between environmental law and public policy.
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Introduction to Environmental Science and Sustainability

Lecture Course# 8415-145 01 11698
Lab Course# 8415-145 01 11699

Climate change, natural resource depletion, global energy demand, and ecosystem decline are quickly raising the global sense of urgency for scholarship and leadership on the topic of environmental sustainability. This course serves as an introductory investigation of how can humans can ensure long-term survival and health of Earth’s ecosystems and its inhabitants. Meaningful environmental stewardship will require a broad understanding of the environmental sciences and natural systems as well as their application to some of the most significant problems faced by humanity. The purpose of this course is to on assess these problems through careful quantitative and qualitative analysis, evaluating a range of options, and providing recommendations using written and verbal communication.

Sustainability, or the sum of practices and policies which allow us to balance the needs of today with the needs of tomorrow, underpins environmental science and includes environmental, social, and economic factors which collectively contribute to the creation of green communities focused on social equity and economic opportunity for all. As such, the course will focus heavily on the interdisciplinary, interdependent nature of complex environmental issues and their roots in natural and human systems. Given the range of potential applications for sustainability across government and business, the course will also focus on service learning, providing a hands-on “real world” context for the subject matter.

Learning Objectives

  1. Develop the ability to speak and write effectively on subject matter contained in the curriculum, including the complexity of sustainability problems in context of natural and human systems;
  2. Develop the ability to employ basic methods of data analysis, research and critical thinking to inform a range of stakeholder audiences;
  3. Research and analyze the impacts of sustainable practices policies and practices, including the concepts of synergies and trade-offs;
  4. Argue effectively for and against potential solutions to problems related to environmental sustainability; and
  5. Develop an appreciation for environmental stewardship in navigating critical global challenges and leading society toward a more balanced future.
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Urban Sustainability

Course# 8415-357-01

Rapid urbanization has resulted in environmental problems, such as air and water pollution, social challenges, such as disparities in community health, and economic distress, including unemployment. Addressing these challenges requires an appreciation for the complexity of interdependent urban systems and an understanding of the dynamic connections formed between people and place within the context of the built and natural urban environment.

This course we will explore the social, economic, and environmental dimensions of sustainability in cities. The course will analyze the contemporary urban environmental crisis in the context of global population growth, ecosystem decline, and global climate change, critically evaluate government policies and programs that try to address the challenges of urban sustainability, and assess public and private sector efforts to promote social and environmental justice.

Learning Objectives

  1. Formulate theoretical considerations underpinning global environmental change and urban sustainability;
  2. Define the scope of urban environmental problems in both developed and developing cities;
  3. Critically analyze innovative urban governance structures affecting sustainable urban planning, energy, and transportation;
  4. Understand the implications of climate change for cities and strategies being implemented for mitigation and adaptation; and,
  5. Synthesize interrelated concepts in social equity, economic development, and environmental protection.
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Introduction to Sustainable Entrepreneurship

Course# 2213-495 05 11748

Traditionally, entrepreneurship focuses on identification of opportunities that create value for customers and ultimately yields a profit for the founders and investors. But sustainable entrepreneurship takes a slightly different approach by emphasizing the additional goal of promoting sustainable living, in terms of social equity and environmental improvement.

This course addresses many aspects of sustainable entrepreneurship including opportunities that may be available to start-ups and large businesses for establishing sustainable enterprises in the global economy.  The opportunities that entrepreneurs create, the challenge that they encounter, and the ways they identify and exploit opportunities that contribute towards long-term ecological enhancement while sustaining profits will be examined.  The roles of public policy, private investment, technology, and public opinion in sustainable entrepreneurship will also be explored.

Learning Objectives

  1. Awareness of basic environmental science concepts and issues related to sustainable business practices;
  2. Understand the principles, best practices and processes sustainable entrepreneurship and their successful application;
  3. Comprehend the business case for sustainable entrepreneurship;
  4. Develop strategies for setting business goals for sustainability; and
  5. Implement strategies for triple bottom line performance measures.
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Principles of Transportation

Course # MKTG 314-0-10621

Transportation planning and operations require adeptness in technical and policy/political assessment and decision making.  In the U.S. the earliest settlements were defined by the transportation networks capabilities.  Today transportation is the focal point of the energy change dialogue.  The role in an increasingly urban America brings focus to how the several modes of transportation can effectively share a right of way, conserve energy and support a sustainable style of living.

The course will review the history of transportation in America, the impact of transportation on the social movements of this country, how transportation has shaped the urban and metropolitan shape of land use.  The tools and methods used to determine transportation investments of capitol and human resources will be illuminated.   The course will include an array of teaching methods: in class work sessions, lectures, field trips and weekly exploration of transportation topics of the moment. Students will also survey the policy, operational, planning, environmental, and political considerations associated with transportation at all levels of government.

Learning Objectives

  1. To develop the ability to speak and write effectively on subject matter contained in the curriculum.
  2. To develop the ability to employ basic methods of data analysis, research and critical thinking to inform all aspects of sustainable transportation planning.
  3. To possess a general knowledge of transportation planning and the inter connectedness to other built environment professions (urban design, land use planning, landscape design, etc.).
  4. To research and analyze the impacts of sustainability and other policies and practices and to argue effectively for and against policies.
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Sustainable Community Development

Course# 1179-294-13-11856

Community development is a term often applied to the practices and public policies intended to improve various aspects of local communities, including poverty, workforce development, wealth and employment. Historically, community development seeks to empower individuals and groups by providing them with the skills needed to affect change within their own communities by building political and economic power.

The Community Development Challenge report defines community development as:
“A set of values and practices which plays a special role in overcoming poverty and disadvantage, knitting society together at the grass roots and deepening democracy. “

The course will also explore recent contributions in the fields of environmental sustainability, transportation and Smart Growth that have advanced community development beyond the traditional terms that defined it since its formulation as an academic discipline.

Learning Objectives

This course introduces students to the broad-based understanding of community development practices. It encourages critical analysis of community development policies. Through case study review and other learning methods, students will develop crucial skills to:

  1. Develop the ability to employ basic methods of data analysis, research and critical thinking to inform all aspects of community development;
  2. Develop the ability to speak and write effectively on subject matter contained in the curriculum;
  3. Understand fundamentals of the community development process.
  4. Comprehend the interrelatedness of the social, environmental and economic aspects of community development; and
  5. Research and analyze the impacts of community development policies and practices and to argue effectively for and against policies.
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(The Politics of) The Green Economy

Course# 1179-294-09-11860

The sea change brought about by awareness of climate change and natural resource limitations has challenged corporations and governments across the country. The green economy and the sustainability movement are increasingly becoming integral concepts in guiding endeavors such as urban planning, land development, public infrastructure engineering, agriculture, architecture, environment and ecology management, public health, economic policy making and energy planning.
The purpose of the course is to raise awareness why the green economy has emerged in such vast proportions, to investigate why its advancement has been so rapid and to assess its prospects for continued expansion. Through case study review, students will begin to define a green, sustainable and restorative economy and learn insights into issues being addressed by the Federal, State and local governments as well as non-profits. Students will analyze green policies and evaluate their effectiveness.

Learning Objectives

  1. Develop the ability to speak and write effectively on subject matter contained in the curriculum;
  2. Develop the ability to employ basic methods of data analysis, research and critical thinking to inform public officials;
  3. Comprehend the complexity of public policies across the multiple layers of government and the various sectors of the economy – public, private and non-profit; and
  4. Research and analyze the impacts of green policies and practices and to argue affectively for and against policies.
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Accessibility Resource Center

Bldg. 39, Room 106B
phone 202.274.6417 | fax 202.274.5375 | phone 202.274.5579 (tty)

Office Hours
Mon – Friday
9:00am to 5:00pm